Whew. All I did was watch THE TIPOFF this week and I still need to recover.
To paraphrase what NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue said before the festivities began, May 1 used to feel like some far away thing, but it finally arrived. The first games in league history were played last week and there are an endless amount of things we can talk about it.
I’ll start with this, though: I loved every second of it. Or almost every second of it. There were some hiccups, but that was to be expected of a brand new esports league that’s trying to do something never done before, and for the most part, it was executed well. The games were exciting, the production was top-notch and we can finally talk about something of substance with this league instead of speculating.
And talking about what happened is exactly what I intend to do. Let’s break down everything from this past week.
The games themselves were as good as you could hope for in an opening tournament. There was an impressive amount of parity this week which led to a lot of close games.
There was a lot of talk about the sliders. The league gameplay is harder than the retail version gameplay. A lot of people are saying the league needs to bump up the shooting a slight bit, and I wrestled with this as the week went on. At times it felt like the shooting was just a bit too low, and I teetered on the brink of frustration watching some of the shots that didn’t go in. But I think the sliders are good where they are. Players will get more used to the league build—not every team even got to practice or scrimmage on the league build before this tournament—and I imagine the level of play we saw last week won’t resemble the level of play we’ll see by week 17.
What I liked the most though was the array of identities we saw. Teams were running different offenses based on their personnel, and there wasn’t much 5-Out (despite what Twitter may tell you). The great thing is this was only the first week, and those identities will only become more apparent as time goes on. There’s a question about whether teams will copy the Shotcreating Slasher small forward strategy but for the most part, this shouldn’t be a copycat league. Every game was different. It felt fresh. I was eagerly anticipating getting to see new teams and finding out what kind offense they would run. If this level of diversity keeps up, it’s going to be an entertaining season.
Issues persist with the game itself, though. I saw a few goaltending calls that didn’t look anything close to goaltending. There don’t seem to be any clear path fouls. A team somehow got to call a timeout despite not having anywhere close to full possession of the ball in a late-game situation. I hope the league has plans to patch things as problems arise because a phantom goaltending call could cost a team a game which wouldn’t be a good look for the league.
Production values are incredibly important to the esports experience. They give an esport character and can help bring in viewers.
Overall, I was impressed with what we saw. Bringing in veteran Madden commentator Scott Cole to do play-by-play commentary was a masterstroke by the league and I applaud whoever made that happen. Cole brought the perfect energy to the proceedings and was never boring. I could listen to the man commentate anything. Color commentator Phil “EE” Visu was a fine addition as well, and the two had great chemistry at the desk. It’s important that commentators know the game and it was obvious that the two did their homework. A+ work there.
In traditional esports style, there was an analysts’ desk in between games, ran by another Madden vet, Larry Ridley, and community favorite Jamie “DirK” Diaz Ruiz to break things down. Everyone loves DirK, he loves everyone, and as always he did a fantastic job in his role. There are few who could fill that role well and it was a huge get for the league for him to sign on. His NBA 2K knowledge and knowledge of the players was obvious and his role even grew as the week went on. He was mostly tasked with breaking down games at halftime or after the game but eventually came in during games almost like a sideline reporter to give live breakdowns. As for Ridley, it seemed he wasn’t quite as familiar with NBA 2K or the league (even once saying that no one was talking about CLTX Gaming, which, I assure you, plenty of people were), and he seemed to trip over some of the teams and players, even mispronouncing them frequently. It’s not too much of a concern, though. He should settle into his role as time goes on and he becomes more familiar with everything.
Outside of the personalities, there was plenty to like about the in-game production itself. The decision to go with the broadcast camera was a good one I think, and although many in the Twitch chat were clamoring for the 2K camera, I think broadcast makes for a better viewing experience. My stance on that might just be from 5-Out fatigue while watching Pro-Am though, so I’d at least be willing to give 2K cam a shot. There were times where the broadcast camera couldn’t keep up when a team was on the fast-break where the ball would leave the screen completely and the camera would have to catch up, though. It’s a small thing, but it should be fixed if possible.
What I immensely enjoyed were the frequent cuts to the players themselves after big plays. The league is full of personalities, and showing the raw emotion from players is only a positive for their personal brand and the league’s brand. There was plenty of celebrating, plenty of trash talking and plenty of locked-in faces during intense moments. Everybody loves seeing that kind of thing, and they honestly can’t show the players enough. It leads to great moments like this one. When fans hear a player’s name, they should be able to picture what that player looks like. Show their faces enough and that can be accomplished.
And speaking of the trash talking, there was so much of it. The players let it fly free during games and it only added to the intensity. Jazz Gaming, in particular, were loud and willing to let the opponent know if they had just made a big play. OneWildWalnut was yelling so much on the final day of the tournament that he lost his voice before the finals. I absolutely encourage more of this—as long as the players still respect each other afterward—not only because it’s entertaining but because these guys may want to get one over on each other the next time they play. Keep letting these guys be vocal, Mr. Donohue.
But, as I mentioned in my preview, there were likely going to be hiccups, and there were plenty. There were more than a few delays for various things, including Rux’s controller shutting off in the first game of the tournament. There were also audio sync issues throughout the week, and I don’t know if it was just me, but no matter how much I refreshed, the issues persisted. Other audio issues like arena or player mics not being lowered when commentators and analysts were trying to talk happened a few times. Other problems were a direct detriment to the viewership. On day one, peak concurrent viewership reached close to 15,000 and leveled out at a steady 8,000 to 9,000 as things settled in. Just before the final game of Tuesday, however, the stream temporarily went offline, and viewership plummeted to around 4,500 and stayed there for the rest of the night. That’s a big-time mistake and something that needs to never happen again for the sake of the league.
The commentary was great, but there seemed to be some fatigue from Cole and EE by the end of every night. It is indeed a marathon to commentate six to eight games over the span of eight hours. The regular season has six to seven-game slates on Saturdays, so it might be worth looking into a second commentating team, or even just getting a replacement for Cole for a couple games. I mean, DirK is just sitting right there and he would definitely be eager to call a game or two.
There was a lot of dead time in-between games when they were setting up that might be used better. I don’t know if the league or production team has the manpower or resources to do it, but that could be filled with replays, stats and highlights. The Overwatch League (which, to be fair, seems to have an infinite amount of money) does those things during their breaks and it keeps viewers engaged even when there’s no game on.
My biggest complaint would be the lack of stats. There’s a huge opportunity to post in-game, up-to-the-minute stats, but there were literally none. That is a glaring absence. I was told that they may be waiting to do that for the regular season, and I hope they do because it would be a benefit to the production. The stats were few and far between on the first day, but the league seemed to take in that feedback (I definitely wasn’t the only one mentioning this on Twitter) and add more box scores throughout the week during halftime and in between quarters. Even still, the only final box scores that seemed to be given were on the league’s Twitter account. If there is a single area production can be improved, it’s there.
Despite those issues, it was an entertaining experience. The games were close and tense, and Cole did a fantastic on the call to make it even more exciting. There are tweaks to be made, but it was a damn fine first try. It’s a good sign that they took in so much feedback on the fly and production improved as the week went on. The crew added listen-ins during team timeouts, a playlist during breaks and started showing a shot chart on the third day. Good job to everyone involved.
[1-2, eliminated in group play]
Kings Guard will be disappointed to bow out of group play with a 1-2 record. It wasn’t just that they lost, it’s that they lost close, winnable games (their two defeats were by a combined four points).
There was plenty of talk about the “big three” of Mootyy, Worthingcolt and Timelycook, and it didn’t live up to the billing. While Worthingcolt was an absolute horse in the paint for all three games, Mootyy struggled to find his footing scoring-wise. He found other ways to contribute and I don’t think he played as bad as Twitch chat would have you believe (never believe what Twitch chat tells you), but Kings Guard will need more scoring out of their fourth overall pick in the future.
But all the blame can’t be placed on any one person for what happened on Tuesday. The team failed to close out two close games (give them credit for winning a tough one in overtime against Bucks Gaming, though) and it was mostly because the offense stagnated more times than you’d like to see, especially when they got impatient on offense and tried to quickly answer opposing buckets. At times the Kings Guard offense became a sloppy seven-seconds-or-less. Once their Pure Sharpshooters SAFiya4ya and Cowboycollazo were played tight, they didn’t take enough advantage of the extra space given to them. The game was practically begging them at times to set their half-court offense and run some plays but they refused to do so.
The team’s biggest problem I think is their lack of a coach. Those late, close games are where you need someone to keep you organized and stay in your system, and Kings Guard was without that last week. They have a coaching staff so it was puzzling not to see anyone roaming the “sideline” behind the players. The game gets intense on the big stage, and having a coach separated from that and able to give level-headed guidance is crucial. It could also help curb game-losing lapses like not fouling at the end of a one-point game, which is what happened in their game against Pistons GT.
If there’s a bright side, it’s that when this team was playing well, it was really playing well. Their first half against Cavs Legion in game one, where they took a 40-32 lead, was just about the best-case scenario against Cavs Legion: Hood got his, but the rest of the team was quiet, and Kings Guard played legitimately good team defense. Mootyy and Timelycook combined for only six points, but the latter dished out 11 assists and SAFiya4ya was on fire from three. Their fourth quarter was good as well thanks to some great offensive rebounding from Worthingcolt and some excellent Timelycook attacks to the rim. It was the upside of the quick offense that they relied on for most of the day. If they can better identify when to slow things down when needed, they can put more points on the board.
[1-2, eliminated in group play]
I was mostly impressed with what Bucks Gaming did last week. They weren’t favored by the community but came just as close as Kings Guard to securing a quarterfinals berth, and showed everyone something special when they came back down big to beat Cavs Legion in overtime.
But their biggest problem came from questionable decision making from point guard Game6Drake in late-game situations. In a close game one against Pistons GT, BucksGG scored one point in the final 3:36 of the game, and that came off a defensive three-second violation where Rux’s controller shut off. What had been an efficient, if slow-paced, offense suddenly shut down and couldn’t buy a bucket. The deciding moment came with 25 seconds left when Game6Drake secured a steal near half-court, and instead of taking the clear path to the basket, he pulled up at the three-point line and missed an open trey. Game6Drake attempted six three-pointers that game on the Playmaking Shotcreator, which is an archetype that can hit the three, but you don’t want to take that many attempts on it, and he did indeed only convert one attempt from beyond the arc against Pistons GT.
There were moments in their other two games where he forced jumpers and spent a little too much time trying to iso. All of this makes it sound like he didn’t play well, which isn’t true actually because overall I think he was good. But this BucksGG team has shooters in Procis1on and KinG PeroXide and a dominant big man in oLARRY. Not too many possessions should end in pull-up jumpers. There didn’t seem to be much creativity with this offense, and there wasn’t enough off-ball movement. They’re going to have to do a better job of getting those shooters open and creating space for oLARRY down low. I also wouldn’t mind seeing some pick and pop action with Game6Drake and KinG PeroXide. If this team can tighten up in the 4th quarter and get some better ball movement, they can close out these games.
[3-2, eliminated in semi-finals vs. 76ers Gaming Club]
They had a good run, making it all the way to the semi-finals before losing to the eventual champs.
There were a lot of lineup changes with this team, and I’m not certain which is best for them. Either way, they’re going to have to figure out how to get their shooters more involved. Pistons GT was 15th during the tournament in three-pointers attempted per game.
Their brand of bully ball was fine, and Lets Get It Ramo and iiNsaniTTy lived up to their first and second-round pick status. Im So Far Ahead looks to be a good piece at point guard, too. But they’ll need contributions from the other two players in their lineup—whoever those two may be—if they want to build on their success from THE TIPOFF and contend for a title. I think the move of Ramo to center worked well, and iiNsaniTTy’s playstyle is somewhere in between the Pure Sharpshooters spacing the floor and the Shotcreating Slashers running the offense like the other SF’s of the league. They just need to draw up some plays to get their shooters open.
Cavs Legion GC
[3-2, eliminated in semi-finals vs. Blazer5 Gaming]
Hood is the man in Cleveland, and rightfully so. Scoring 36 points per game over the course of the tournament was something I didn’t think any player would be able to do in this league.
This offense is clearly built around him. It works because the other four guys on the floor are dangerous enough shooters that you have to respect them. Teams that tried to double team Hood didn’t do it for long because he found the open man and his shooters were hitting.
I don’t know who came up with the idea of running that small forward archetype, but I can only imagine the look on Anthony Muraco’s face (he probably had a smile that looked something like this) when he realized that this system was going to work. That Shotcreating Slasher small forward may be so good we’ll see other teams copy and try to replicate what Cavs Legion are doing. I’m not confident that any other team can pull it off as well as these guys, though, and that’s why they made it all the way to the semi-finals.
[1-2, eliminated in group play]
I was a bit surprised that Wizards DG didn’t make it out of this group with the way they played. The two-man game between Demon JT and Boo Painter was one of the most efficient offenses in all of THE TIPOFF, and when this offense was at its best, it was fun to watch.
But this offense was also streaky, and I think that came down to a few things. There were times where Wizards DG got away from that Demon JT/Boo Painter two-man game and it hurt them, including some possessions where they put Jin at the top of a 5-Out that didn’t seem to really work. Demon JT played three great games for the most part but succumbed to questionable decision making and shot selection every so often.
Scott Cole said it best: Demon JT and Boo Painter should be the bread and butter of this offense, and then let the shooters do their thing. ReeseDaGod, Jin and xGREATxGILLY13 were all money from beyond the arc, and when they were hitting their shots Wizards DG was cruising. This looked to be a team with a high ceiling and I’m a fan of how the roster is constructed. If they can stick to what works on offense and create some looks for their shooters, they’ll score a lot of points.
[1-2, eliminated in group play]
Knicks Gaming will also be disappointed to not make it out. I’m not entirely sure what the consensus was on who would make it out of this group, but I imagine they were favored to play on Saturday.
IdrisDaGoat6 was a breakout star at center, doing it on both offense and defense. Goofy757 filled in his role as the team’s go-to option nicely. Iamadamthe1st could stand to be a little more efficient but played well. NateKahl looked good, too.
The biggest problem for this team was its complete lack of three-point shooting. Iamadamthe1st and shooting guard Yeynotgaming were the only two players on a sharpshooting build. The former shot 30% from three and the latter got less than three attempts from deep per game. That’s a problem. They’ll have to find a way to fit more shooting archetypes into this lineup and get them open. Otherwise, they may keep losing these close games that they’re in.
[2-2, eliminated in quarter-finals vs. Cavs Legion GC]
This team quietly played a great game against Cavs Legion GC in the quarter-finals. Their biggest problem to me was not getting enough from Yeah I Compete. The third overall pick played fine, but you expect more than “fine” from the third overall pick. His shot wasn’t there all week—he shot less than 30% from three—and I don’t think he was aggressive enough either.
What’s promising is how the rest of the team played. Smoove was the most efficient scorer of the tournament, shooting an amazing 86% from the field. That’s not sustainable, but if he can play even close to that he’s going to be a solid contributor throughout the season. MrSlaughter01 and Deedz make for an effective frontcourt. They’ll need a lot more from TifeWorld on offense—27% from beyond the arc—if they want to contend for a title, though.
Once Yeah I Compete plays up to his potential, this will be a dangerous team.
Warriors Gaming Squad
[2-2, eliminated in quarter-finals vs. Pistons GT]
I’ll admit that when I was watching this team on Wednesday I had a lot of concerns about what they were doing on offense.
The gameplan was pretty much “get it to Vert”. And to be fair, they had reason to get it to the big man. Vert was a force down low, and he averaged 24 points per game for the tournament. It’s okay to ride the hot hand.
But there are other concerns with this offense. First-round pick Shawn Win didn’t have the impact you want from a guy you selected 17th overall. It’s not really his fault. Warriors Gaming Squad has him on a Pure Sharpshooter while BSmoove operates at the small forward position. He actually played well, shooting 60% from three-point land, but he didn’t get enough looks for that to matter enough. Lykapro scored a measly 6 points per game while shooting 23% from beyond the arc, and that’s where this team could stand to get some more contributions.
I like the frontcourt pair of Type and Vert. BSmoove played well, too. This is a team that will be in the playoff picture if they can create a better offensive system. Something tells me Head Coach Rustin Lee will come up with something.
[0-3, eliminated in group play]
Not good. There isn’t too much to say about this team. Nothing really worked on offense and they got pulverized on defense. I thought if this team was to have any success, it would come from their backcourt of KontruL and NachoTraynor. KontruL did what he could, but NachoTraynor was a disappointment, shooting just 40% from the field and 11% from three.
There was no clear-cut scorer on this team and there were no threats from beyond the arc. It’s honestly impressive that Magic Gaming only lost by three points to 76ers Gaming Club. This is a team with a lot of work that has to be done, and they’re either going to have to get more contributions from everyone on the court or come up with a system that lets KontruL take over, because he’s the only one that I can picture winning this team some games right now. I could still picture their frontcourt making more of an impact in the future, too.
Raptors Uprising GC
[1-2, eliminated in group play]
When Raptors Uprising GC first failed to make it out of Group C, I considered it a disappointment. After both Blazer5 Gaming and 76ers Gaming Club made it to the finals, however, it made a little more sense.
This team is set up to succeed. Kenny is the real deal at point guard, Yusuf Scarbz looks to be a steal from the third round at center and Detoxys and All Hail Trey shot the ball well. If they were in Group A or Group B I think they would have made it into the quarter-finals.
There were times where I felt Kenny needed to take over. Yusuf Scarbz was great but he went quiet at times which is when you need your point guard to start attacking making some plays. I still have these guys pegged as a playoff team and am a fan of the potential of this roster.
[5-1, eliminated in finals vs. 76ers Gaming Club]
By the time the finals rolled around this team was the favorite to win it all. Starting out 5-0 while taking down the 76ers in group play, Pacers Gaming in the quarter-finals and Cavs Legion GC in the semi-finals had Blazer5 looking unstoppable.
I have to admit I didn’t see them losing to 76ers Gaming Club in the final game. Mama Im Dat Man, Dat Boy Shotz and OneWildWalnut had all played a flawless tournament up to that point. Not only were they scoring in droves, but Dat Boy Shotz had just done enough to stifle Hood in the semi-finals on defense and send one of the best players in the league packing.
It’s not a mark against them that they lost to 76ers GC. The better team won. But even if Blazer5 Gaming did come just short, they have a lot to be proud of for how they played last week. They were consistent, they were balanced and they had one of the best defenses of the tournament. Give a hand to these guys.
76ers Gaming Club
[5-1, THE TIPOFF champions]
Who saw this coming?
There were plenty of teams part of the early contender discussions, but 76ers Gaming Club wasn’t one of them. I mentioned in my preview that this was the quietest team in the league. They had less than 100 tweets on Twitter, a front office that had been announced only right before the draft and they hired a coach just a few days before THE TIPOFF.
I don’t know if it was management or Head Coach Jeff Terrell who designed the offense, but the highest praise goes to whoever it was. This was a balanced, unselfish, ball movement heavy system that had scoring threats all across the floor. Radiant earned a well-deserved tournament MVP with his play, ZDS showed he was the steal of the draft (sixth round!) with his sharpshooting, Newdini was almost automatic from range, Steez showed out as the center and IFEAST, the team’s lowest scoring player, still almost had double-digit points throughout the tournament. On the bench was Tfresh, the most vocal sixth man of any team.
Even after rattling off four straight wins heading into the finals after losing their opening match up to Blazer5 Gaming, this team still didn’t get the respect it deserved. Make no doubt about it, they absolutely earned their title as champions. If they can keep this level of play in the regular season, they’ll do just fine.
[0-4, eliminated in group play]
Yikes. Where to start?
Three of their four games were disasters. They started out on Thursday night against CLTX Gaming and didn’t line up with their first-round pick Winner Stayz On. I questioned that decision but the man himself actually responded to me and said the idea was to build some confidence and get their sixth man some play time. I’m actually okay with that, and it’s true that if you were going to experiment it should be at THE TIPOFF since the regular season is what matters the most.
So they lose to CLTX Gaming by a hefty amount and bring in Winner Stayz On the next day. But he’s at small forward instead of point guard and THREAT is still running the offense. Then he plays at small forward again in their third game and finally makes the switch to point guard in their final game, except… they still look completely disjointed and take a 41-point loss to Mavs Gaming.
I’m not sure what the actual system is that they are running or want to run. AuthenticAfrican was a beast down low and had me wondering if he was a top-five center in the league, but once teams caught on that he was their only reliable source of offense, they double-teamed him and he became of course ineffective. I think Winner Stayz On was looking a bit too much to facilitate instead of calling his own shot and doing some scoring himself. If he and one other player, maybe UniversalPhenom, take some pressure off of AuthenticAfrican to carry the offense then they’ll do a lot better. This team will have to make a lot of adjustments, but I’m not as down on them as almost everyone else seems to be. It’s early and a lot could happen.
[3-1, eliminated in group play]
What an unfortunate situation for this team. They looked like one of the best squads in THE TIPOFF but missed out on playoffs because of point differential despite going 3-1 in a difficult group.
They’re not entirely blameless, as they allowed Mavs Gaming to come back from 20 points down to beat them, but that may actually be a problem for the rest of the league. This was the perfect time to light a fire under this team, especially oFAB. He looked completely locked in after the collapse against Mavs Gaming and did little celebrating while scoring and dishing with ease against the rest of his opponents.
Their second and third-round picks, Arsonal X and MelEast, respectively, came through and were excellent in all their games. These guys are going to be contenders.
Heat Check Gaming
[1-3, eliminated in group play]
What happened? This was a team a lot of people expected to win this entire thing. Instead, they got blown out three times and almost went to overtime against Grizz Gaming.
Offensively they looked fine. Four players averaged double digits in scoring. Hotshot was a force in the paint, Sharpshooterlos was making shots from the center court logo and Majes7ic was sharing the rock.
But they allowed 90 points against CLTX Gaming and 80 against Mavs Gaming, which is probably why they allowed the most points per possession in this tournament. When they held Pacers Gaming to 66 points they fell victim to the tight defense of WoLF and company in what was a nightmare matchup-wise for them. Going 1-3 would have been excusable if the games were close, but they weren’t. FamousEnough is an avid studier of game film, and if he makes the right adjustments this team can get back on its feet.
[3-2, eliminated in quarter-finals vs. Blazer5 Gaming]
This was one of the surprise teams of the tournament, not for them being good, but for them being that good.
Pacers Gaming became somewhat of a community darling after going 3-1 in Group D and looking great while doing it. WoLF, known for his lockdown defense, was an offensive force using the Shotcreating Slasher build at small forward. It was the diet version of what Cavs Legion GC did with Hood, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. While Cleveland ran 5-Out and let Hood go to work, Pacers Gaming mixed in different looks and let Swizurk and vGooner- act as secondary ballhandlers.
I mentioned in my preview that I expected General Manager/Head Coach/All-Around Basketball Guy Cody Parrent to get creative with the roster he drafted and he did just that. The scary thing is this offense probably isn’t operating at full power. Fourth-round pick vGooner- came into the tournament with 0 practice. He played fine, if inefficient, but the lack of practice showed and he needs to be smarter with his shot selection. But once he gets going this should both be one of the best offenses and defenses in the league.
[3-2, eliminated in quarter-finals vs. 76ers Gaming Club]
Dimez didn’t disappoint in his NBA 2K League debut. After becoming the face of the league with an impressive media tour, he was as good as advertised, distributing the ball with ease and setting the early league record for points scored in a game.
Center DayFri proved he’s going to be an integral part of this offense going forward. BallLikeSeem and Devillon were close to perfect in their roles as outside shooters. JLB can do a few things inside and outside.
But there was a trend in their two losses. When Dimez struggles, the team struggles. WoLF put Dimez in a box and 76ers Gaming Club shut him down too. DayFri went to work in the latter game, but the other four players weren’t clicking. I still think this team goes as far as Dimez goes.
Please read before flaming me in the comments: These rankings are extremely volatile. For all we know Grizz Gaming could be on top of this list in a couple weeks. This list isn’t just a reflection on how far a team got, but also how well they played and how I perceive their potential heading into the regular season. Keep in mind we’ve only seen three games played for a lot of these teams. The gap between the 17th and 15th-placed teams is a lot bigger than the gap between the 14th and 8th-placed teams. If you think a team is too low, it’s not disrespect, it’s just that it’s difficult to sort things out at this point and there is a lot of parity in this league. Trust these at your own risk.
17. Grizz Gaming [0-4]
I almost put them over Magic Gaming by virtue of having a tougher schedule and who I think is the best player between the two teams in AuthenticAfrican. But this team just showed no fight except against an underperforming Heat Check team.
16. Magic Gaming [0-3]
Had a shot to pull out a win in their final game against 76ers Gaming, but this was one of the worst looking offenses in the tournament.
15. Heat Check Gaming [1-3]
Even at 1-3, I would have ranked them higher if they were at least competitive with such a tough group. But 19, 17 and 15-point losses while being half a second away from going to overtime against woeful Grizz Gaming means FamousEnough has some work to do.
14. Bucks Gaming [1-2]
14th doesn’t mean this team is awful. They’re head and shoulders above Grizz Gaming and Magic Gaming. But their 44 points against Pistons GT in their debut was the lowest scored in the tournament among all teams and this offense may be a bit too slow paced.
13. Knicks Gaming [1-2]
All their games were close but they didn’t quite put together a complete game. Need more outside shooting to close games out.
12. Wizards District Gaming [1-2]
When the offense was clicking, it was a joy to behold. But this team was too streaky and laid down in a must-win game against Warriors Gaming.
11. Raptors Uprising GC [1-2]
Did their thing against the Magic and kept it close against Blazer5, but a 13-point loss to 76ers Gaming did them in. I think they have a bit more talent on paper than Wizards DG.
10. Warriors Gaming Squad [2-2]
Played well, but their offense at times amounted to “throw it down to Vert and let him do something with it”. Need to find a way to better mix in Shawn Win and BSmoove into the offense.
9. Kings Guard Gaming [1-2]
Lost by a combined four points against Cavs Legion and Pistons GT, two semi-finals teams. If they clean up their offense a bit and learn to close games out then they’re certainly in the playoff hunt.
8. Jazz Gaming [2-2]
I don’t think Yeah I Compete had quite the tournament expected of him. But this team certainly has the pieces and they’re probably the most intensely passionate squad in the league. Kept it close against Cavs Legion.
7. Pistons GT [3-2]
I feel bad putting a team that made the semi-finals so low. Pistons GT honestly played a good tournament, but they had the easiest path to the semi-finals and I think the three teams I put ahead of them that didn’t make the semi-finals had at least one quality win that Pistons GT didn’t.
6. Pacers Gaming [3-2]
You could put the fourth, fifth and sixth-placed teams in any order and I couldn’t really argue with you. I wrote in my preview that I was a big fan of what Cody Parrent did with his draft. I liked the idea of pairing WoLF and Swizurk with vGooner-. What I didn’t imagine was how well WoLF runs this offense and his capabilities as the number one option on such a good team. If they put it all together, this is an obvious title contender.
5. CLTX Crossover Gaming [3-1]
Shouldn’t have blown that lead against Mavs Gaming, but they also kind of missed out on the playoffs just because they didn’t beat Grizz Gaming by enough points. oFAB looked locked in after that game against Mavs Gaming, and if he learned his lesson then this was the perfect time to learn it.
4. Mavs Gaming [3-2]
Dimez and DayFri put on a show but they each got shut down in a game or two. When their shooters aren’t making their shots, they have trouble.
3. Cavs Legion GC [3-2]
You won’t find too many arguments against how Hood might have deserved being drafted first overall. He alone puts this squad in contention if teams don’t figure out a way to stop him. Plenty of good shooters here, too.
2. Blazer5 Gaming [5-1]
Balanced offensive attack with two dominant big men and a defense that will be a problem for every team. Undefeated until the very end and found a way to stop Hood. A few late turnovers in the final game away from being at the top of this list.
1. 76ers Gaming Club [5-1]
They won the whole damn thing. Organized, ball movement-oriented offense with no real weakness in their starting five. If they play all season like they did at THE TIPOFF, they will be a must-watch team every weekend.
First Team of the Tournament
Guard – Radiant, 76ers Gaming Club
What is there to say? Tournament MVP and won it all. Dissected every defense thrown at him and was the catalyst for the best team ball played at THE TIPOFF.
Guard – Dimez, Mavs Gaming
Already holds the league record for most points in a game and, true to his name, dropped plenty of dimes this week.
Forward – Hood, Cavs Legion GC
Lots and lots of points. It felt like every possession was a highlight reel for this guy. No team really figured out how to stop him.
Forward – WoLF, Pacers Gaming
The clear star of Pacers Gaming. Not only a proficient scorer but put the clamps on anyone who dared to cross him.
Center – oLARRY, Bucks Gaming
I think everyone forgot how good he was because Bucks Gaming played on the first day, but oLARRY was one of a few centers to average a double-double and led all centers in scoring with 24 points per game and 12 rebounds per game.
Second Team of the Tournament
Guard – oFAB, CLTX Gaming
The second overall pick lived up to the hype with 21 points per game and almost 17 assists per game.
Guard – Mama Im Dat Man, Blazer5 Gaming
Ran the Blazer5 offense efficiently and made sure his two big men got plenty of touches.
Forward – BooPainter, Wizards District Gaming
Part of one of the potentially best two-man games in the league. Got 22 points per game and even averaged a healthy 5 assists per game.
Forward – Vert, Warriors Gaming Squad
The focal point of the Warriors Gaming Squad offense. Teams knew the ball was going to him and he still looked unstoppable.
Center – Worthingcolt, Kings Guard Gaming
Another center who I think people forgot because he played on Tuesday. Led the Kings Guard Gaming attack with 23 points per game.
Third Team of the Tournament
Guard – Timelycook, Kings Guard Gaming
Looked great at point guard for Kings Guard Gaming, averaging 20 points and 12 assists per game.
Guard – ZDS, 76ers Gaming Club
The only shooting guard on this list. Averaged 15.5 points per game and was money from the three-point line. A spark plug both on and off the court. Part of the best backcourt in the league.
Forward – Smoove, Jazz Gaming
Led Jazz Gaming with almost 18 points per game and shot an incredible 86% from the field.
Forward – DatBoyShotz, Blazer5 Gaming
Part of the three-headed monster of Blazer5 Gaming. Got 22 points per game and may have even overshadowed sixth overall pick OneWildWalnut.
Center – TuckerLocksUp, Pacers Gaming
Locked up. Post defense will be important in this league and this guy has it.
THE TIPOFF Superlatives
There are a lot of candidates here from such an entertaining week of NBA 2K. Cavs Legion-Kings Guard, Wizards DG-Knicks Gaming, even the final game between 76ers Gaming and Blazer5 Gaming provided some thrills. But it’s hard to ignore a 20-point deficit that was overcome against one of the league’s best teams. Mavs Gaming looked down and out in their Group D matchup with CLTX Gaming. The C’s jumped out to an early lead, leading by 20 at one point, and had a 15-point advantage at halftime. But Dimez led his team to a furious comeback, eventually overcoming the deficit and winning 81-74.
Scott Cole was excellent all week at the desk, but I was partial to his “Press ‘F’ and pay respects” call, an homage to a cutscene in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare that eventually became a meme, after a WoLF dunk on Hotshot during Group D play.
Not much went right for Magic Gaming this week, but KingCamRoyalty sending Steez to the shadow realm during their Group C matchup with 76ers Gaming Club unified even Twitch chat in agreeing that it was a monster dunk.
It was a Herculean performance for Radiant all week, capped off by this pull-up three-pointer in transition to seal the deal against Blazer5 Gaming in the finals and send his team, and the crowd, into ruptures.
Lets Get It Ramo is an early favorite for the best sound bite in the league. After Pistons GT took care of Warriors Gaming Squad in the quarter-finals, the power forward requested that they “give them little babies some applesauce,” in reference to his opponents.
Defensive Player of THE TIPOFF
TuckerLocksUp turned heads last week with his play down low. The center not only contributed a healthy 11 points per game during THE TIPOFF but was easily the scariest defender opposing big men had to face. His post defense was key in Pacers Gaming’s run to the quarter-finals.
Who else? Radiant was a known commodity coming into the league but I don’t think a lot of people expected this from him. He averaged 19 points and 9 assists per game while shooting 55% from the field and 59% from three on almost five attempts per game. Even in a balanced system where scoring was spread out, he was clearly the best player on the court, especially during the playoffs.